I have found this blog very helpful and your advice is always “spot-on”. My question is related to this poster’s situation. What if I suspect that my spouse’s sexual past is similarly affecting our sexual relationship but they have not told me about it yet? I see similarities in how this poster describes their spouse’s current behavior of being hesitant to try new things (nothing over-the-top) and I don’t know how to ask where the hesitancy is coming from.
I guess I am conflicted about whether to inquire too much about past mistakes as I always thought that once someone has repented and has been forgiven it isn’t my business to bring up “past transgressions”.
Is there a way to create an atmosphere that will give my spouse an opportunity to disclose her past so that we can discover if that may be affecting our sexual relationship now? Thank you!
- The sexual education she received in her home of origin. If sexuality was not easily discussed or discussed only in the light of it being a grievous sin before marriage, she may be experiencing some normal hang ups of just not being able to easily “switch gears” now that she is married. Laura Brotherson states the following in her book And They Were Not Ashamed: “The ‘Good Girl Syndrome’ is a result of the negative conditioning that occurs from parents, church, and society as they teach-or fail to teach-the goodness of sexuality and its divine purposes. This conditioning leads to negative thoughts and feelings about sex and the body, resulting in an inhibited sexual response within marriage. . . .The Good Girl Syndrome may be the great underlying and underestimated cause of sexual dissatisfaction in marriage.”
- Religious Beliefs. Similar to the above stated problem, your wife may have a different set of ideas form you about what is considered sexually correct behavior in regards to the command of staying “chaste.” It is imperative that couples be comfortable discussing these differences in a non-threatening and non-blaming manner.
- The possibility of previous sexual abuse. It is important that when you broach this question (and I would ask it directly), that you make sure you communicate that you know it would be incredibly difficult for her to share this with you if it has happened, and that you are aware that many women never tell anybody because of fear and shame. If she does disclose that she was sexually abused, it is essential that you remain calm, attentive and loving towards her. It is also imperative that you follow her lead – it is highly probable that the abuser could be someone she grew up with and even someone you know. If you go off on a rage or threaten to confront this person it could be very damaging to her disclosure efforts and send her into panic mode. Ask her how she wants you to respond. Don’t expect she will tell you everything immediately – she may only start with half truths or part of the story just to test your reactions. Encourage her to get professional help and be willing to be part of that process (going to sessions with her as the therapist deems necessary).